Are Czechs ready?

The world braces for war

On Thursday night, US president George W. Bush reiterated that his country was ready to find and prosecute those responsible for last week's terrorist attacks. "Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists," he told the world dramatically. The Czech Republic, as a NATO member, has said that it stands firmly on the side of the United States. The country may soon find itself at war, due to the invoking of Article 5 of the Washington Treaty, which means that an attack on one NATO member is an attack on all. Although the United States said they won't need direct military help from the allies, the Czech Republic is prepared to provide its top chemical unit and other professional units for the operations. But apart from the elite troops, are ordinary Czechs and their political representatives prepared for war? Earlier today, Vladimir Tax spoke to Jefim Fistejn, a political commentator and assistant to the program director at Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty in Prague.

Afghanistan braces for war
"For the first time after World War II, the majority of the Czech nation feels somehow directly touched by the events, even involved in the international affairs. Many circumstances at this time play together. First I can mention the upcoming NATO summit which will take place next year in Prague. This upcoming summit makes it clear that the Czech Republic is in no way in the backyard of the world politics. Any time, we can be a target of any kind of terrorist attack. This time I would say the shared feeling, the feeling shared by the majority of Czech people can be called earnestness, seriousness."

It has been a couple of hours since the the US president, George W. Bush, made his speech and there still has been no reaction from Czech politicians. Right after the terrorist attacks, there were plenty of proclamations, but now politicians are silent. How is it possible?

"The most important declaration have already been made, as far as I can evaluate. And I can say that the overall reaction is as expected, solidarity and preparedness to help the United States, with probably a second, hidden thought, clearly understanding that a real military participation of the Czech Army won't probably be needed at all, won't probably be probably requested by the allies, the United States."

So, would you say that the latest events have united the Czech political scene, not talking about the communists, but the rest of the political spectrum?

"The political scene is of such a nature that every party of course tries to use or misuse the situation, the occasion for their own purposes. It is quite natural. But after all, the political scene is more or less united after the feeling of solidarity, after the feeling of belonging to the Western union of civilised nations."